Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crazy Lady Will Fall For Hard Luck Story If You Keep Her Company

I hear tell thar's a woman in town who'll feed us if'n we sit with her a spell

At 5:15 every morning this week, the kids and I have been woken up by some crazy a** relentless tapping on our front glass door and windows.

After sitting up and freaking out the first few days I finally dragged my coma sleeper husband's body out of bed by his arms and pulled him down the stairs. You'd think he'd be more at the ready to protect his castle. He quickly summed up the rhythmic tapping:  it's birds. Red Cardinals.

Birds who are pecking on our windows, and the glass front door. And doing it without stopping. Tap. pause. TapTap. pause. Tap.

I called our Nature Reserve Center and I was blessed with this bit of *isn't nature AWESOME!* explanation for the birds' predawn calling.

They are attacking their own reflection. These Cardinals see their glorious threatening reflection in our glass front door and are defending their territory from themselves. Can you imagine that bit of inner dialogue? ::Must.Attack.Self::

Holy Moley and I thought I had issues.

The conversation naturalist at the reserve center quickly became concerned: clearly, I did the right thing by calling. I could feel the joy she had at how indispensable her services were. She told me with intensity I could feel in her voice that what I needed to do was place masking tape in a big X over all the glass fronts to our house. Now.

My family is used to me doing things that appear to make no sense on the surface; but I had a live voice on a phone line with me this time, one that others could hear, too. Forest Ranger Mary was shouting directions: "Just X out all the reflective surfaces on the front of your house! The birds could get hurt!" I didn't want any birds hurt, I wanted to sleep, too, so I X'd away at our reflective surfaces. From space, our house must've looked like a pirate's treasure map.

We went outside to see how bad it looked.

Oh, it was bad.

Painful mortification for the two teens, for sure.

Tearful pleading from the 9 year old, "the school bus will be here any minute, mom, please take it down!"

My husband's lovely affirmation of love for me, "why the surprise, boys. It's your mom."

I stood on the sidewalk in my slippers, staring at the front of our house, shaking my head, looked like a crazy woman lived there.

"It looks like the hobos got us, mom, with those signs they leave for each other, like in the book you read to us."

Yup. It did. Exactly like train hoppers saying, "stop here."

Hobo signs were used by hobos to talk to each other, letting them know of what they could find in a home. They'd carve signs into a tree, or fence, or garage, or assemble a sign with sticks and stones, using coal or chalk.

Could be about hospitality found there:

A cross made with two sticks meant the hobo could talk Jesus and get a ham sandwich in return.

The letter "M" meant "a hard luck story gets them every time."

A diamond shape with an upraised stick "arm"  meant RUN! gun on premises.


Here's a hobo sign you'd never see outlined on our driveway....

Maybe something more like this:

With this one right below it:

The old boys would be putting this one up, if'n they came on a Saturday and my husband was home.

 This sign here I would save them the trouble and put up myself:

Before you start thinking I'm a bit out there worrying that hobos will find us, let me tell you, I googled it: The Knights of the Road today communicate via cellular phones, and e-mail.

And, you know, instagram.



  1. Wait - I just have to show up & drink coffee with you, and you'll feed me?

    Seriously, you'll never get me to leave.

    I got pretty pissed at a college roommate who put a mirror near the betta bowl and the betta proceeded to exhaust himself to death fighting the reflection.

    Did the signs do any good against the bird?

  2. Couldn't you just put tacky holiday-themed posters on all of your doors and windows? My mother did that and we didn't even have the bird problem.

  3. John: you're cracking me up. I do have a beta fish story, too.

    Dana: I wish you were here, too. LOVE YOU.

    Mandy: oh em gee. My kids are reliving childhood.

  4. That's hilarious about the hobo signs. I think hobos are awesome.

    And hello, STUPID birds. My aunt had one that spent the entire spring dive bombing her kitchen window until he broke his dumb bird neck.

  5. What if you skipped the x's and just spelled NOT CRAZY or I HATE BIRDS (not sure how many windows you have) or be festive like Mandy said and spell a Halloweeny message!

  6. Andrea: LOLing at the NOT CRAZY sings. Those I should keep up year round.

    MamaNash: It's true!! The craziness of these birds.

  7. While I am certain that the x's do as some curb appeal to you house . . . you could also try using stick-ons with pictures of owls, sticks etc.

    We used to have birds flying into the windows of our office regularly. Seriously, it takes at least one year off your life when a bird flies into the window that is situated directly beside my head. However, since putting the stick-ons on the windows, the birds haven't been flying into them.

    Oh, and may I add, I had no idea that todays hobos were so technologically advanced!

  8. hey i will drink coffee any did the birds stay away? of ocurse i will now be looking for hobo markings now that i speak their language...

    all is well btw, had two growths appear...they cut them out today and they were deemed non cancerous...smiles.

  9. I must show this to my children.

    They will nod solemnly, murmuring, "Yes. This is something our mother would do. That 'voice' the Empress lady heard on the other end of the phone? Was. Not. Real."

  10. How about a poster of a scarecrow!

  11. I love that your photo caption says "if'n" -

    You already had me right there, crazy lady.

    p.s. I love coffee, too.

  12. Next time your kids act embarrassed about the look of simple tape "X"s, let them know that it could be could be hanging your unmentionables in front of the windows thus blocking the reflections and drying your delicate undies!

  13. Hilarious! I feel like running out and doing that to my windows just to freak out my neighbors. Of course, I have no bird problems, so all the crazier.

  14. - "why the surprise, boys. It's your mom."

    Your posts *C*R*A*C*K me up!

    I've never heard of dumb ass birds doing that...You must attract them!

  15. My mother was known as the Bird Lady of Walden Road because she nursed baby bandoned birds back to health. Our house was always filled with them.

    And you thought your teens hated those crosses on the door.

  16. We had a bird that did that all one summer - and my husband had a bird that did that all one summer; either that or he heard me tell the story and then forgot that it didn't actually happen to HIS family. He does that.

  17. I really do not like birds. Did the X's work at least?

    I wish I lived near you :)

  18. I'd put up a will pay for chores sign too. I wonder if that would still work now.

  19. I used to have a cardinal that did the very same thing. Angry little bugger. But I never taped off my windows with large X's to deter him.

    Coincidentally, I never had a hobo problem either.

  20. Hmmmm, perhaps you should wow the boys, and the neighbors, by putting up those (static stick) flowers, or disney characters, or something really kooky. Good time for Halloween decorations, too!

  21. LOVE the last sign.....I'm sorry the birds woke you up! People put a tape "X" on their windows here ALL the time! It's to help them from shattering during hurricane season! You'd fit right in! Come to Florida...come to Florida!!

  22. My in-laws had to do this... and the neighbors called the cops on them after a couple of days. They claimed they were living next a bunch of crazies with x's on their window. Um yep, pretty much!

  23. Haha! I can picture the "X" marks the spot in my head! I'd totally do it, in fact, I might do it. My sister was held captive by a giantic male turkey pecking at her glass door for 4 hours once.

    Broken mirrors, x'd out ones, dirty ones, I'd still stop and peek at my reflection. But I'm smarter than birds....I think.

    Hope you get some sleep.

  24. You funny, lady, and I love you.

    Also, may I venture a practical suggestion? To make it less hideous? Add a third, vertical line - to make them a 6 pointed asterisk, not an X. And use pretty colored tape - like blue painters tape.

    Added bonus - the glue won't harden on your windows into an unremovable cement-like crust - as masking tape adhesive will after a couple of weeks of being baked by the sun. (Don't ask how I know this will happen, it's not a pretty story.)

  25. Did you know that hoboes are online now? Yep. And they have conferences, too:

  26. I used to get that banging on the windows,too, but it turned out to be women in the neighborhood who found out I was single. Probably because I put tape all over the windows that read "I'M SINGLE."

    Damned if I'm gonna put X's on there. Kind of enjoying the attention.

  27. Love it, love how your teens get embarassed, love the way you handled the signs and the birds. Thnx for the morning laugh!

  28. It's too bad you don't have shutters like we do. They close on the outside so no reflective surfaces. Maybe you can special order shutters from France and then you'll be all posh.

  29. I'm sorry about your house and hope it helped with the birds, but thank you for using your misfortune to put a smile on my face this morning!

  30. Oh my gosh, I love that last symbol. I should wear it on my forehead - I recently realised I was going to my kindergartener's school drop off earlier and socialise!! It's so sad. Good thing I have my bloggy friends :).

  31. hehehe.
    the things we do for nature.

  32. You would be an awesome neighbor to have me thinks. I'd love to sit down for coffee talk with you and would even tape up those windows in exchange.

  33. Hobos still exist!!

    I just did a bunch of googling on them with the kids, and they exist. And they now email each other with places to go, not go.

    So I AM RIGHT to be concerned..

    You all crack me up.


  34. You know I'm always down for coffee and food with you - especially food you cook and NOT me.

    Love the self-portrait! Your hair looks fab.

  35. Hi Lady,

    I'm back in town, Trying to realign my poor, old body to the proper time zone.

    Listen, can you take a picture of that beautiful sight for me? I just want to show my kids that I'm not the only mom on the planet whose sole job is to mortify their kids.

    I would make a sign that says, "Will give you my husband's collection of bad 80's music for window washing." Seriously. He'll never miss them Iand my windows make me sad. I have three dogs. Who watch squirrels. All day long. Licking at the window in their lust. Enough said.

    We have Sandhill Cranes, which are beautiful from far away, but up close they're scarier than Anthony Perkins peeking around your shower curtain. They're almost as tall as me and they know where we live. They come and peck, peck, peck on the sliding glass doors with their big red beaks and it freaks me out so bad. Also, they're a big plus in dirtying up the windows. So glad to be home. I have a feeling the laundry will be ignored all day long as I catch up with my friends.

  36. I don't know girl, I'd do just about anything to get some sleep!

  37. I remember watching a Cardinal sitting for HOURS pecking away at a side mirror. I had to call the DNR to find out what the heck was going on as well! Amazing little creatures!

    You kill me. Always good for a coffee-spew here.

  38. Did the x's work? It seem so strange to me that they would.

  39. Hmmmm...

    I'd take a cardinal over a woodpecker any day, as a woodpecker is pecking a hole in my cedar siding way up high. I have taken to spraying him and the hole with water from the hose. My neighbors walk by and idly watch and I know they are wondering why I am watering the peak of my home....

  40. We have pesky woodpeckers who bring in the mornings by pounding on the metal street lights. I wonder if they taste like chicken?

  41. Too funny! My kids have ceased to be surprised by anything I do!
    At work - I have a peacock who will fight himself bloody attacking my front door. Scares the bejeses out of me every time WHAM the whole door shakes - people say "awwwwww" and no matter how many times I try to run the stupid damn thing comes back - at this point I'm thinking of fattening it up and having it for Thanksgiving :)
    michelle from
    cause google is messing with me and not letting me comment on this unless I'm anonymous :)
    take that google!

  42. I need to find out what to do about the goddamn squirrels who think that the tree right next to our bedroom is the perfect place to hang out and then RUN RUN SCAMPER across the roof. EVERY DAY.

    PS I'm coming over.

  43. I am coming not only entertain me but you teach me's like school and recess and LUNCH!!!!!!!!

    Love u..hoping the tapping stops!



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